“When the tide goes out, you can see who is swimming naked.” I’m reminded of this phrase as I think about folks handling the huge tide of political dollars. The tide is in, and sadly, it will inevitably go out.

For many, this is yet another test of sales leadership, revealing how well one is able to juggle the tactics of securing political dollars with the foundational leadership role of building and coaching a sales team; a sales team that grows key accounts while consistently creating new demand.

And in today’s environment, that juggling act is harder than ever. After all, our local media selling environment is different than the past, and any distractions to learning how to compete effectively in the here and now—even positive ones such as political revenue—can lead to falling quickly behind.

There are new categories, new verticals, and new ways of doing business. New coaching methods (reviewing game day footage such as client Zoom calls), new work-place rules, and new skillsets needed. 2019 and previous years’ constructs are irrelevant.

Historical category rank has been upturned. The amount of revenue generated by outbound sales efforts in prior years is a moot point (we know we’ve got to do more!). The past percent of revenue coming in via local or national, linear or streaming—that’s out the window.

How we compete and excel in the stormy present—with key clients and with generating new and incremental demand—will best determine our near-term future.

We’re only two weeks away from the November 3rd election date. For some markets and companies, especially those without a lot of political, it will be a point in time. For others, it will be a huge pivot point. The tide will be out.

Leaders… make sure you’ve got the tools and people, as well as attitude, all in place to swim well at any water level. After all, early 2021 will look a lot like 2020, minus political.

(View more Prime Time Leadership posts on current happenings in media leadership here:)


At JDA, we’re having fruitful conversations with senior media leaders across the country around driving revenue, sales leadership and marketing best practices. If I can be a sounding board for you or your company, please reach out to Angela@jimdoyle.com or info@jimdoyle.com

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